Citizens For A Better Norwood

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

H1N1 vaccine can prevent tragedy of “life years lost”

Guest blog by Pamela Walker-Bauer

With the recent death on May 2, 2010 of a young mother in Hamilton, Ohio from H1N1 related complications, I feel compelled to once again stress the importance of vaccination against the 2009 H1N1 virus. H1N1 flu activity is still present in our community and Ohio is still reporting flu activity at the sporadic level.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention death estimate from the 2009 H1N1 virus is nearly 12,000 people to date. Let me reiterate…12,000!!! That is a 12 with three zeros. It is estimated that nearly 9,000 of those deaths were in people aged 18-64 years. Perhaps your eyes are glazing over with these statistics. But I ask you to think of these deaths in another way. It is what those of us public health professionals trained in epidemiology call “life years lost.”

“Life years lost” are estimated by subtracting the age of death from the average life expectancy. So let’s look at the young mother from Hamilton who died at the young age of 26 and subtract that from the average life expectancy of almost 79 years. So 79-26 is 53. This mother had 53 years of her life lost. I wonder what she would have done with those 53 years. Perhaps she could have seen her grandchildren get married and held her great-grand babies in her arms.

When I think about those 12,000 deaths in the number of ‘life years lost” my heart aches.Maybe one of those people could have discovered a cure for a deadly disease. Maybe they could have been a school teacher or nurse. What if we lost a future amazing community leader? What if it was your child or relative…how would that impact you?

The City of Norwood has thus far been spared such a tragedy. Many of your children were vaccinated in one of our 14 school-based clinics. Many of you were vaccinated at one of the numerous clinics at the Norwood Health Department. For those of you who were not vaccinated, we still have vaccine available for you and your loved ones. Please contact us for your vaccine and help prevent any additional “life years lost”. We can be reached at 513-458-4600 or email us at

Pamela Walker-Bauer, MPH, RS
Norwood Health Commissioner